Monica Bellucci Explains Why a ‘Mature Woman’ Is a Sexy Match for James Bond

6 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Trigger Mortis’.

Where to go when 53 years of action-scene set pieces have exhausted seemingly every exotic corner of the Earth? ‘Spectre’ is opening with more competition at the box office and slightly less positive response from critics than ‘Skyfall’ which explains the lower projections.The 30-year-old actress was unmissable in a sexy red and leather ensemble for the panel discussion with co-stars Daniel Craig, Monica Bellucci and Christoph Waltz.

The Italian beauty, 51, who has a steamy scene with Daniel Craig in the latest Bond film Spectre, is the oldest actress to step into the coveted role in the history of the franchise. “I had to play a Bond lady not a Bond girl because Lucia is a mature woman,” said Bellucci. “[Even] though she doesn’t have the beauty of her youth any more, she still has her femininity and that actually is her savior.” She adds, “It is very important that I am playing an adult woman for this role and, actually, Lucia [because] she is a widow with a secret.Britain’s intelligence services chose the release of the new James Bond movie, Spectre, to go on both a charm offensive and a recruitment drive last week. I’m being a little over-dramatic because after the summer the industry had, nobody is shedding any tears for the major studios, but still October was rough. It pays homage to villains past and present, underscores the evolution of the Bond girl into Bond woman and addresses modern-day worries about surveillance and technology squeezing out agents with a license to kill. After speaking to fans and photographers Lea and her co-stars posed up for pictures with Daniel standing next to Lea and comically staring away from the camera.

Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, surely would have been delighted by this confection that recreates the hilariously bizarre and bloody times of the immortal Agent OO7, not to mention Pussy Galore. We need to see her sadness, her desperation and also her age.” “Daniel is such a gentleman on screen and off screen,” Bellucci says of her intimate on-screen relationship with Craig. “Sometimes it is difficult to get intimate with somebody you don’t know, but with him it was so easy. Appearing on the cover of NET-A-PORTER.com’s digital fashion magazine The EDIT, the 30-year-old spoke of her struggles at school, which she now believes is due to dyslexia.

A Bond movie without the action is like Sean Connery without his wonky pronunciation of the letter S, like Roger Moore without his misogyny, Daniel Craig without his inner turmoil. Anthony Horowitz, already famed in England as a novelist as well as for his brilliant wartime series “Foyle’s War,” has stepped neatly into Fleming’s handmade shoes and takes a footnote to admit how much he enjoyed it. MI6 officials (from the foreign section of the Secret Intelligence Service, or SIS) were on the BBC talking about recruitment: James Bond films spawn a spate of interest in the services from hopeful applicants. It features a Sam Smith song, “Writing’s on the Wall,” returns Ben Whishaw as gadget guru Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Ralph Fiennes as M, and stages chases on land and in the air — at the same time in one scene. Admitting her childhood was ‘privileged in some ways, but not in others’, Lea recalls a phone call her mother Valérie Schlumberger received after she performed badly in an IQ test. ‘I did feel rejected, but I was already so excited about the world.

But the SIS, as their new drive suggests, are looking for a different kind of candidate: less womanising loner assassin, more emotionally intelligent team player. The author has deftly moved back in time to an era when the marvelous phrase “trigger mortis” is used by technicians as a dig at the struggles of the over-bureaucratized American space program and the embarrassment of rockets that blew up to the glee of the Russian competition.

Meanwhile, still in PR mode, the services popped up in a London Times series (‘For your eyes only’ – clever, no?), in which journalists got unprecedented access to GCHQ, the government’s secret surveillance centre, and were suitably gushing about it. Finally spying his real prey, explosions follow, walls collapse and the resulting chase spins into a helicopter careening over a mobbed Zocalo Square. Craig’s final Bond (and that has yet to be decided), he goes out in figurative and literal style, thanks to impeccably tailored Tom Ford suits reminiscent of 1960s fashions. It’s not as if the plot could or should be taken seriously except by perfectionists who grumble at Bond’s choosing to drink a Negroni instead of a martini before he beds Jeopardy Lane, a Secret Service agent who is more serious about her work than Pussy Galore.

It’s a sequence of such startling audacity (some 1,500 extra were used) and gorgeous black-on-sepia tones that a nagging desire to hit “rewind” persists through the rest of “Spectre.” Handsome and riveting as it often is, the film never again reaches such heights. He pairs a white dinner jacket and danger for one bruising scene while a companion is clad in a sultry dusty green gown that seems to materialize out of nowhere.

The author gives only fleeting attention to the notorious Pussy although she has her moment of fame when two bad guys paint her a lethal shade of gold which will clog her pores to the point of painfully asphyxiating her. Britain’s intelligence services and the government have been calling for more surveillance powers – to combat jihadi terror, online child abuse, and international crime. Bond also tools around, for a while, in an Aston Martin DB10 concept car that will have auto enthusiasts salivating into their buttered popcorn. “Spectre” opens with a portentous on-screen message declaring, “The dead are alive” that gives way to the macabre, musical merriment of the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. Rescued by Bond, she survives and ungratefully runs off with a glamorous English lesbian whose charms apparently appeal to her even more than those of Mr. Indeed, the Conservatives have tried before to get something similar through parliament in 2013, with a bill swiftly dubbed the Snoopers’ Charter – but those attempts were shut down by the Liberal Democrats, who were junior members in the then-coalition government.

Mendes, who helmed the last entry, the smash “Skyfall,” has raised the bar on 007, pushing the budgets and the grandiosity in a bid to not just reinvent the franchise but overwhelm it with eye-popping craft. “Spectre” is Craig’s fourth Bond movie, and his muscular tenure has been defined not just by his full embodiment of the character but his overall stewardship. Now I’m not saying The Peanuts Movie and James Bond are targeting the same audience, or even that Peanuts will win the weekend (it won’t), but I am saying if parents are only going to spend money on only one film this weekend, Snoopy’s going to win out. The costumed skeleton marchers, paper brides and floats soon make way for an epic pursuit involving Bond and a villain who tries to escape by helicopter. The Spectre storyline seems distinctly disapproving of any push for extra, wider surveillance, preferring the more honest business of straight-up assassination, good old fashioned 007-style, to all-seeing and infinitely abusable online prying powers. That’s part of the reason why Spectre is coming in at the lower end of expectations, plus reviews of Spectre are currently well below what Skyfall was pulling it at this time.

But 007 muscles his way into the craft, and the men slug it out on the rails of the chopper, which perilously spins over and buzzes the panicked crowd. You could extrapolate from the Spectre plot that mass surveillance (as opposed to targeted surveillance) is a really bad idea, and, moreover, that a case in support of it has not really been demonstrated. Although to be honest it’s not really a fair comparison as Skyfall followed Solace which is widely regarded as one of the worst Bond films of all time (thanks in large part to the 2008 Writer’s Strike impacting the sub-par script). Horowitz obviously did his technical homework, as he generously acknowledges in an admission that he could not have offered such details without the help of genuine experts.

But perhaps British intelligence services are banking on us going all gooey-eyed over Bond – as is so often the case – and hence, getting a bit blurry with the plot details. Having ushered 007 through the Eva Green highs of “Casino Royale,” the overwrought lows of “Quantum of Solace” and the climactic extravagance of “Skyfall,” “Spectre” finds Craig’s Bond pursuing the videotaped orders of Judi Dench’s late M in a more traditional 007 plot. Back in London, however, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, tells M, “We’re going to bring British intelligence out of the darkness into the light,” and that means relying on machines more than man. And this scene in George Lazenby’s single outing as commander James Bond is one that you’d be surprised to learn inspired many generations of filmmakers. He demonstrates his reliance on their aid in quite remarkably detailed chapters on daredevil car racing when Bond is assigned to a Grand Prix to save an English driver and for good measure turns a Russian secret agent to toast.

While Sony would love a $88 million opening here, the truth is Spectre can do upwards of $70 million and still look like a massive success Truthfully investors aren’t expecting Spectre to top Skyfall, the main hope is actually just for Sony to have another hit. And then there’s the business of having already been caught in the act of surveillance – thanks to Edward Snowden’s revelation that the United Kingdom, just like the United States, has been carrying out a wide, unauthorised interception of electronic communications through which it has been hoovering up private data.

The pursuit skirts the snowy peaks of Austria, the cloak-and-danger cobblestones of Rome and the Mediterranean maze of Tangier, with enough corresponding outfit changes to stock a runway show. New players in the mix include Christoph Waltz as a brilliant baddie, Lea Seydoux and Monica Bellucci as the beauties who enter Bond’s life, and former professional wrestler Dave Bautista as a henchman who looks like he could really hurt 007 or anyone else for that matter. The Investigatory Powers Bill is described as an attempt to bring all that data-mining ‘into a legal framework’ – in other words: To put into law something that has already been taking place, secretly and with nobody’s consent. While the studio had one or two minor hits (The Wedding Ringer, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2), its first half flops were more memorable (Chappie, Aloha, Pixels). We now have a few details of the bill that are to be discussed today: The British government wants the sort of surveillance powers that no other western country has – well, not legally anyway.

The reader has to keep in mind that the book is set in the Cold War and the race for space, with evil Russians represented by Bond’s old enemy SMERSH. Central to the bill is that internet companies have to store details of websites visited by their customers for a year – information about the sites visited, rather than specific pages.

You could look at Sony’s 2015 schedule early on and see it had a back-loaded slate, but what you couldn’t see was just exactly how much behind the eight ball that put the studio. The chief fiend this time around is a Korean known as Jason Sin who uses a pack of lethal playing cards offering assorted forms of nasty death as his means of executing offenders. Police will need judicial authority to access an individual’s internet data trail, and the GCHQ will be allowed to hack computers, listen in on our phone calls, and even turn on the microphones and cameras of our mobile phones. Every gesture (and drink order) is a winking comment on 007 traditions; even the opening recalls the New Orleans funeral march of “Live and Let Die.” When it works, it’s refreshing; when it doesn’t, it’s merely repackaging. “Spectre,” scripted by John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, feels more like the latter.

As long as Sony’s PlayStation 4 was still the hot console and its home entertainment products were selling well, the film group got a virtual pass with investors. Sin wants to blow up Manhattan with a bomb-carrying train, not so much because of his political bias as to revenge himself on Americans who killed too many Koreans during the war over there. We can, uncharacteristically, put a little faith in British parliamentarians – a chunk of whom (especially in the opposition parties) are cynical over the need for extra powers as set against the need to safeguard privacy. There is a Colonel Blimpish quality to some of the staff and there is a nice irony in the fact that the CIA expresses its gratitude to Bond in the shape of a suite at the Plaza.

Commentators note that Brits aren’t really spooked by the intelligence services’ spooks, with trust in them still running high in the aftermath of those shocking Snowden revelations. Seydoux, the French actress of “Blue is the Warmest Color,” gives the film a jolt, but the romance between Swann and Bond is slight and the character is little more than Bond’s usual love interest. When they eventually arrive at a remote Sahara outpost, they could really just stay there, handsomely smoldering in the dry heat like a Hemingway couple. However, the climax is pure Bond, the agent who fails to pay attention to who is trying to murder him now and almost succumbs to the murderous intentions of Dimitrov, the Russian agent whom Bond reduced to what he thought was toast in the Grand Prix. The off-kilter menace of Waltz would seem perfectly suited for “Spectre,” but his scenes pale in comparison with Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva in “Skyfall.” Also with big shoes to fill is cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, stepping in for Roger Deakins.

Spectre is going to be the studio’s highest-grossing film of the year and with the film rights to the 007 franchise about to be up for grabs again, you can bet Sony’s pulling out all the stops to milk this for all its worth.

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